Unfortunately the Sentinel GPS daytime nighttime thermostat is on it's way out it would seem. It cut out completely during the first night cooling cycle last night. After a few minutes it came back, then cut off again. It simply was not designed to be in a moist environment. Being that a photocell triggers night operation, it MUST be in the enclosure to function correctly. I have been SCOURING the net for a replacement with very disappointing results. There seem to be very few such thermostats for horticultural purposes and nearly all of them are of similar design which will certainly fail again in my application. More versatile units are extremely expensive (1000$ or more!) and include a bunch of lighting and CO2 functions I will simply never use. Also they are very large and the ultimate deal-breaker; STILL not intended for moist environments. I'm currently using one of the extra ITC-1000s I had laying around to manually monitor and switch day and night temps. It was looking like I would have to build an even more complicated control panel than I was planning on. I'm an electrician so it's very doable... Just not terribly appealing.
Then I found this!
As you may have guessed, it is for controlling reptile enclosures. There are a few other similar products available from other manufacturers however the functions focus on heating and do not support cooling operations. Those units are by "Vivarium Electronics" and would likely make a superb unit for a lowland environment, but that will be a different build. This model pictured above is by far the most versatile unit I have found. It's also the most advanced unit offered by "Spyder Robotics" and is reflected in the price point. There is another offering from "EcoZone" that is a little more visually appealing however it lacks some of the functions and EcoZone charges extra if you want more than one sensor even though the unit has 6 inputs. Spyder Robotics also has six inputs AND comes with 6 sensors. I believe we have a winner! Look at what this thing can do!
From the website:
The Herpstat 6 vivarium controller is our latest design. It features six probe & outlet jacks which are individually configurable. This unit features a built in mechanical relay that can be enabled to cut the power circuit to all six outlets in case a solid state component fails. Humidity control is also built into this device which can be as simple as timed misting sessions or full humidity control with our optional humidity sensor. The soft startup feature slowly adds power on initial starts as well as a user selectable ramping between day and night time temperature settings. Light ramping to simulate sunrise/sunset is also built in. Our proven auto power matching algorithm constantly adjusts the power output to get the best regulation possible. High and low temperature tracking helps you monitor your enclosure temperature swing and also records the time and day of the event. Fanless control board for silent operation, Basking Assist mode that now provides compatibility with heating lamps as a heat source, both Dimming and Pulse proportional heating modes and a replacable power cord.
The Herpstat 6 comes with six temperature probes and power cord. Optional humidity sensing probes are available. Check out the User's Manual for screen shots of the setup procedure.
** Now with upgraded steel tipped probes ! **
·Six grounded outlets capable of true proportional heating.
·Constantly monitors and adjusts amount of heat necessary to maintain a target temperature (Usable range from 40°F to 150°F or 4°C to 65°C).
·Outputs 1, 2, 5, 6 are configurable for Heating/Cooling/Lighting. Outputs 3 & 4 can be configured for Heating/Cooling/Humidity/Lighting with simulated sunrise/sunset and moonlight features.
·Humidity control with timed sessions or regulated with an optional sensor.
·Silent fanless design
·Basking assist feature supports basking lights as a heat source.
·Safety Relay can disconect power to all six outlets if an error exists.
·Soft startup slowly applies power during initial warmups.
·User selectable temperature and light ramping allows day to night changes to occur slowly. (Up to 10 hours)
·Sensor Matching allows the user to digitally calibrate the sensor output to match other equipment.
·Night Drop feature built in with real time clock allows individual night drop settings for each output.
·Cooling function allows control of basic cooling devices.
·High / Low temperature tracking helps monitor heating system and enclosure efficiency.
·Individually selectable High / Low temperature threshold alarms.
·Precision sensors with internal resolution of .1125 °F and is accurate to ± .9 °F
·Display and setting in tenths of a degree.
·All settings are retained in memory even if power is lost.
·Power Outage detection / tracking.
·Temperature can be set / displayed in Fahrenheit or Celsius.
·Easy to read backlit LCD display.
·Removable sensors allow for easy replacement if necessary.
·Each output is fused separately keeping an outage on one output from affecting the other.
·Audible alarm system
·Internal error detection shuts off heat if sensor fails or is disconnected.
·Security Passcode option deters vandals.
·375 Watt rating for each output (1800 watts total output) sufficient for most incubators, rack systems, enclosures, and vivariums.
·1 year limited warranty
WOW! Again, I'm going overkill with this and it will be the single most expensive component in my build but I believe it will pay off in many ways. I can monitor and control not only temps, but RH%, misting or irrigation systems AND lighting all in one unit that is much more functional and aesthetically pleasing than anything I could build. AND still have channels left to expand my setup, add enclosures etc. I have read many reviews on multiple reptile forums stating that the unit has worked flawlessly for many years. These folks trust these controllers to protect their rare, exotic and expensive reptiles without complaint so I am confident it will serve the same purpose for my plants.
Again, this unit is their top shelf offering. If you are looking for a controller for your grow space I would highly recommend one of the more basic units. The "intro" unit supports all functions except humidity and is one channel as opposed to six channels above. That unit is only a few dollars more than the daytime nighttime thermostat I currently have and I think it is probably a much better starting point than the Sentinel model for a first build. I wish I had known about it when I started my build.
Spyder Robotics product page:
The vendor I used is GLK Herp:
Excellent customer service and unlike the manufacturer, they can be reached by telephone! Imagine that these days?! The kicker was the free priority shipping promotion on all herpstats.
I hope this thread is inspiring others to build an enclosure of their own, helping to source the components needed to make their build work etc. Please feel free ask for help designing and or building your own system. I'll do what I can to assist.